On June 28th the citizens of Somali cities Kismayo, Galkayo, Baidoa and Mogadishu, as well as citizens of Helsinki in Finland gathered together for the same cause forgiveness, cafis.
The Forgiveness Day is a culmination of a year-long process of building the capacity of Somali journalists and a nationwide sensitization campaign for forgiveness. The objective of the Forgiveness Campaign is to end the current culture of revenge deriving from the traumas and grievances of the Somalia civil war and the subsequent years of violence in the country. It aims at creating a platform for dialogue and co-existence and to reverse the violent narratives.
As the Somali culture is largely based on oral communication, radio, TV shows and videos in social media have an extensive reach across the country and have been effectively harnessed to spread the message of the campaign. The celebration on 28th started with five minutes of silence and continued with events discussing and encouraging forgiveness. The main event in Mogadishu was broadcast live on four different TV channels and on several radio programmes. The government of Somalia has shown green light for recognizing the day as a public holiday in Somalia.
The founder of the campaign, a Finn-Somali journalist Wali Hashi, stresses that among the participants of the events they have organized during the past year, there has rarely been any doubt about the importance of forgiveness in Somalia.
”Everyone agrees to it”, Hashi says.
On a video produced as part of the campaign Hashi tells his own story and his motivation to spread message of forgiveness. As a Somali but also as a Finn, coming from a prosperous Nordic country to conduct such a project in Somalia, Hashi himself has encountered lot of questioning of his motives.
”I tell everyone that I don’t get any profit out of this. The campaign is carried out by group of volunteers consisting of Somalia journalists and youth. Even the equipment, like cameras have been lent from the Somalia Ministry of Information.”
The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and FCA together with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland have supported the campaign as part of their reconciliation project in Somalia only to cover the essential costs for travelling, venues and campaign materials.
A video produced from one of the campaign events captures a moment of forgiveness between a Somali man, Abdullahi Abdi Mohamed, and an army officer, Ahmed Husen, who shot him at a checkpoint in Mogadishu. In the event organized as part of the Forgiveness campaign, these two men meet each other to forgive and reconcile. At the end of the event, the two men leave the stage holding arms around one another.